Premium Times (Abuja)

Nigeria: What Will Be Pope Benedict's Title After Resignation?

The resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, the first pope to do so in almost 600 years, has stirred up a number of issues previously not considered or properly defined by the church's rule.

One of such uncertainty is what will be the out-going pope's title after February 28, the day he quits office as the head of the Roman Catholic Church.

The U.K. Independent reports that he would be known as Cardinal Ratzinger once again. According to the newspaper, he would also lose the honorific "His Holiness" as that is the exclusive preserve of Popes.

Some church theologians say he would have to be readmitted into the conclave of Cardinal; but because he is above 80 years old, he will be admitted as a non-voting member.

However, Vatican spokesman, Federico Lombardi, said on Tuesday the pope will continue to hold the title Benedict XVI and hinted he will not be called a cardinal. He said he would become Bishop Emeritus of Rome.

The Church is yet to decide on what to do to with the papal ring that Benedict wears and uses for seals. Traditionally, the seal is destroyed on the death of a pope.

Pope fitted with a pacemaker - Vatican

Meanwhile, the Vatican revealed on Tuesday that the out-going pope is fitted with a pacemaker, the Los Ageles Times has reported.

However, Mr. Lombardi said the pacemaker was fitted before he was voted as Pope in 2005 to help regulate his heartbeat and is not directly linked to his resignation.

"It had no influence on the decision. The reasons were in his perception that his strength had diminished with advancing age," Mr. Lombardi said.

According to the spokesperson, the batteries of the pacemaker were replaced three months ago in Rome.

Mr. Lombardi also said hinted that the election to pick a successor will be held in mid-March.

"There were 17 days between the death of John Paul II and the election of Benedict, and we can expect a similar thing," he said. "The cardinals should know they should be in Rome in the first half of March."

Mr. Lombardi also allayed fear that the pope will interfere in the election to pick his successor.

"The pope will say nothing about the process of the election. He will not intervene in any way. You can be sure the cardinals will be autonomous."

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